Posted: Tue 2nd Jun 2020

“People’s behaviour” could determine if further lockdowns taken place in winter as CMO views released for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Jun 2nd, 2020

Future restrictive measures could have be introduced later in the year if there is a second wave of coronavirus.

Today Health Minister Vaughan Gething pointed to people’s behaviour as having an influence over the future spread of the virus and whether that will mean additional measures will have to be put into place.

A new statement was released this lunchtime on the Welsh Government website, dated last Thursday, from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Wales, Frank Atherton. The statement contains advice provided to Welsh Ministers about the last 21 day review of coronavirus restrictions, which was made public a day later on the Friday.

The statement explains the changes made in Wales, with the CMO explaining “…the knowledge that the virus does not transmit easily in outdoor environments and is rapidly inactivated by heat and sunlight provides us with opportunities to allow some lifting of restrictions on outdoor activity provided social distancing measures can be maintained”

On the basis of that the CMO made two recommendations:

  • “I recommend that Welsh Government uses the next review period to develop proposals for further increasing opportunities for the public to safely use a wider range of outdoor spaces.”
  • “I recommend that public messaging highlights the potential need to re-impose more restrictive measures in the winter if viral activity increases.”

On the latter point we asked the Health Minister at today’s briefing what are the specific boundaries on indicators which would see lockdowns reintroduced – with the First Minister confirming to us yesterday that localised lockdowns could take place if needed.

The Health Minister said: “I am pleased that you’ve drawn people’s attention to the fact that our Chief Medical Officer’s advice around the 21 day review of the regulations has been published.

“As you know, I’ve committed to making available and put into the public domain the scientific evidence and advice that we receive. So, we’ve decided to make available the evidence he provides around our regular review of the regulations to help people understand the sort of messages that we’re getting and advice we’re getting as ministers.”

“It is important to think about what might happen in the autumn and the winter, because some of the measures we’ve been able to unlock are because the time of year we’re in, and our understanding of coronavirus. The fact that it lasts a lot less in direct sunlight outdoors, but it lasts for much longer on indoor surfaces.

“We do need to think about the fact that we may have to reintroduce some lockdown measures in the winter, that depends on the reservoir of coronavirus that exists, it depends on people’s behaviour as well.

“There isn’t a hard or fast set of measures to reintroduce but we’ll have to look at the evidence that we get. So if you like, the evidence on not just the numbers of people who test positive with our expanding program from test race protect, but also numbers of hospital admissions, the numbers of people in critical care.

“There is a range of key data and information we’ll consider about the reality of where coronavirus is, how many how many people are contracting and the impact, and that will guide a range of choices we have to continue making as a government.

“The winter is a much more difficult period of time because more of us were living our lives indoors, and that’s where there’s the greatest risk from coronavirus.

“Again, it I think underscores the continuing advice to people in the shielding category. They should not go and do their own shopping, they should not return to a workplace if they can’t work from home.”

We also pointed to the news this lunchtime that in England the lockdown review period is extending from 21 to 28 days. We asked if that was something Welsh Government was considering, or bringing in in Wales, and if so why would it be required.

The Minister said:m”We haven’t talked about that as a government about extending that period. We are still at the moment in a three week review period.

“If we decide to change it in any way, and it is an ‘if’, it’ll be the First Minister who communicates that to the people of Wales.”

You can view the full briefing plus Q&A session from today in the below video:

(Top Image: The Chief Medical Officer of Wales, Dr Frank Atherton)

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